Consumer body warns suppliers not to inflate prices after unrest in South Africa

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A police officer detains a suspect looting a shop in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 12, 2021. Soldiers have been deployed in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces to deal with violent protests and looting, the South African army said on Monday. Police said six people were killed and 219 people arrested over the weekend in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal following violent protests after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed for 15 months for contempt of court. Hundreds of shops and businesses across the two provinces were looted. (Photo by Yeshiel/Xinhua)
A police officer detains a suspect looting a shop in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 12, 2021. Soldiers have been deployed in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces to deal with violent protests and looting, the South African army said on Monday. Police said six people were killed and 219 people arrested over the weekend in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal following violent protests after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed for 15 months for contempt of court. Hundreds of shops and businesses across the two provinces were looted. (Photo by Yeshiel/Xinhua)

With some parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Province still experiencing food and other basic items shortages, the South Africa’s National Consumer Commission (NCC) on Monday warned suppliers that they could face a fine of up to 1 million rand (about 68,900 U.S. dollars) for price hiking.

Acting Consumer commissioner Thezi Mabuza said both Sections 40 and 48 of the Consumer Protection Act make it a prohibited conduct for a supplier to increase their prices unconscionably.

Mabuza said both sections were gazetted by the government in an effort to prevent suppliers from “profiteering during the period of the National Disaster. This was done to protect consumers against unfair, unreasonable or unjust pricing.”

Speaking to Xinhua, NCC’s Communications Officer Phetho Ntaba said they appealed to communities to report any price gouging.

“We encourage consumers to notify us if they are aware of price inflation. We heard the allegations and we are being proactive in alerting consumers,” she said.

NCC’s warning came after consumers in KZN were forced to purchase loaves of bread for 35 rand even though a loaf normally costs 15 rand.

“The NCC will continue with its efforts of implementing the provisions of the CPA by reducing and ameliorating any disadvantages experienced in accessing any supply of goods or services by consumer,” Mabuza added. Enditem

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